Friday, August 12, 2011

Jane Austen Week: My Answers :)

Yay!!  It's Jane Austen Week over at Elegance of Fashion!  I've been working on this post all week...I was beginning to wonder if I'd get it done before the week ended! :}  Miss Elizabeth Bennett has posted 11 questions relating to Jane Austen that all of us get to answer.  Of course, I can never pass up an opportunity to talk about one of my favorite authors!! :D

I had so much fun working on this post.  I hope you all enjoy reading it. :)

1.  What is your favorite thing about Jane Austen? Why? 

     I love the moral basis to all of her tales and the spiritual applications one can draw from her stories.  As a Christian, I enjoy romantic novels where love is pure and holds to Godly standards, and where the people in love genuinely seek the best for the other person instead of themselves. 
     I also love Jane's wit and creativity, and of course her wonderful cast of memorable characters! :) 
     I think the amazing thing about Jane Austen is that she was so good at capturing the emotions of the scenarios in the stories. Even though our cultures and time periods are very different, as a reader I can still relate exactly to what the characters are going through. That, to me, is the mark of a great writer.

2.  What are your top three favorite Jane Austen Novels and why?

1. Emma:  I love this book mostly because I so appreciate the character of Mr. Knightley and his relationship with Emma.  I also love all of the other story lines (Harriet and Robert Martin, Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill, etc) and the growth of the characters.

2. Northanger Abbey:  Well, I love Emma for Mr. Knightley, and I love Northanger Abbey for Mr. Tilney! ;)  Also, when I first read this book, I just started laughing because I could relate so much to the way Catherine's mind worked.  I completely lived in my imagination much of the time as a young girl, so for much of the book I could see myself in her.  I also appreciated a Jane Austen story where the two main characters genuinely liked one another and didn't do much to hide it. :)

3. Pride and Prejudice:  What can I say that hasn't already been said about this novel?  It's just brilliant.  The moment I first read it, I was caught up in the story and couldn't put it down!  I think I read it in two days. :)  I love witty Lizzy and stern Mr. Darcy, jovial Mr. Bingley and sweet Jane.  What a great story!  

3.  Who are your top three favorite Jane Austen Heroines and why?        

1. Elinor Dashwood:  I love Elinor's firm determination and constancy, even when all seems hopeless.  She is the glue that holds her emotional family together, the steady, calming voice amid the chaos.  I also appreciate her response to everything that happens with Edward.  Rather than complain and feel sorry for herself, she faces it bravely and resolutely, determined to do the right thing.  I would have had a much more difficult time dealing with everything!

2. Emma Woodhouse:  While not always the most appealing character, I appreciate how Emma's character grows and changes throughout the course of the book.  I see so much of myself in her foolishness, and later, in her remorse and desire to be better.  Thankfully, both she and I have our Mr. Knightleys to gently help us keep on the right track! ;)

3. Catherine Morland:  I know that many people don't care for Catherine because she is so easily swayed by those around her.  But I appreciate her innocence and sincerity.  When she does make a mistake, she tries her best to make it right.  I also appreciate her genuine, unselfish affection for those around her.  Like Emma, she also grows and changes for the better through her experiences.  She goes from a girl with an uncontrollable imagination to a more careful, thoughtful young woman by the end of the book.

4.  Who are your top three favorite Jane Austen Heroes and why?

1. Mr. Knightley:  I love his nobility and kindness.  I like the fact that he's not afraid to point out to Emma when she's made a mistake. I also love his patience with Emma.  Even when he's harsh with her, you can plainly see it's because he cares about her, and hopes to see her become the woman he knows she can be.  Mr. Knightley is especially precious to me because he reminds me so much of my own husband.  The way Mr. Knightley and Emma interact is very similar to the way Hubby and I interact, too. ;)

2. Mr. Tilney:  This is the other Jane Austen hero that reminds me of my hubby.  I love his humor and the way he likes to make Catherine laugh.  Yet underneath all Henry's joviality is a nobleness of character and a sense of what is right and fair.  When it's important, the joking is put aside and he is a man to depend on.

3. Edward Ferrars:  I love the fact that keeping his word to Lucy is more important than his own happiness.  Even though he loves Elinor, he is committed to doing the right thing by Lucy.  Thankfully for Elinor (and all of us!), his patience and character prove more worthy than Lucy's!

5.  Any honorable mentions for 3, 4, and 5? (Keep it under five all together)

       Elizabeth Bennett, Jane Bennett, Mr. Darcy, Colonel Brandon

6.  Top three Jane Austen Adaptations and why?

1. Pride and Prejudice BBC 1995
     I first saw this adaptation after I'd read the book.  I loved the attention to detail and incredible accuracy of this version compared to so many books-turned-to-movies.  Not to mention that Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth were so brilliant in their roles! :D  I much preferred this version of Pride and Prejudice to the later version with Keira Knightley and Matthew McFayden.  I think that the 1995 version was more faithful to the book, and I didn't care for the characters as much in the newer version. 
    I especially love the end of the 1995 adaptation, at Jane and Lizzy's double wedding.  The preacher talks about the reasons for marriage, and as he does, the camera cuts to all of the couples we've met along the way that have married for other reasons.  We see the contrast between Jane and Lizzy's promising futures and the unhappy unions of the others, who based their marriages on wealth or lust.  I just love the spiritual applications I can draw from that scene! :)

2. Emma 1996
    While I love the 2009 version of Emma with Romola Garai and Johnny Lee Miller, the Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam version is one of the movies that introduced me to Jane Austen (it came out when I was in high school).  I had a major crush on Mr. Knightley!!  (By the way, I still think that Jeremy's Mr. Knightley is the best one, although Johnny came very close.) :)  I loved the story, the cinematography, and the characters.  Of course, when I later read the book, I was disappointed by everything they left out regarding Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill.  Incidentally, my favorite Jane and Frank are Olivia Williams and Raymond Coulthard from the other 1996 version with Kate Beckinsale (although that version has my least favorite Emma and Mr. Knightley).  As I said before, I did enjoy the newest version of Emma and all that it included, but I was saddened by the modernization of some of the lines, most specifically in the scene where Emma and Mr. Knightley argue about Harriet's refusal of Robert Martin and the scene where Mr. Knightley scolds Emma after her treatment of Miss Bates.  I think Jeremy was the best at showing his grief through his lectures, not just sounding angry.  Those scenes alone are enough for me to love the Gwyneth/Jeremy version best of all.

3. Sense and Sensibility 2008
     You might find it funny that I love the 1996 Emma best but enjoy the 2008 Sense and Sensibility more than the 1995 version.  Emma Thompson's Sense and Sensibility was my very first introduction to Jane Austen's wonderful world, and as such will always hold a special place in my heart.  But I have to say, I loved the newer version.  I loved that all of the characters were there (Lady Middleton, unimportant as she may be, was part of the book, and it was nice to see her included; I also enjoyed seeing Lucy's sister Anne, and Mrs. Ferrars was so horribly intimidating, adding so much to the story!).  There were definitely some scenes I liked better in the Emma Thompson version, but what really drew me to the 2008 S&S was the development of Edward's character.  I loved how they included his visit to the cottage and gave him a larger part in the story. 
       Of course, there were things I did NOT particularly enjoy about this version, such as the completely unnecessary scene in the very first part of the movie.  There were also some hair and costume issues that bothered me a bit (some of them did not seem like they were from the correct time period).  Overall, though, I found this a wonderful version that I enjoyed greatly.

Just for fun:  This movie came out right after I had my third daughter.  I had her by way of a Cesarean section, and she was in NICU for a while.  When we first brought her home, I had difficulty sleeping in bed because of my surgery, and she was getting up every 2 hours to eat.  So the two of us would be out in the living room together all night.  I was on the couch and she was in her bouncy seat.  My brother had recorded S&S 2008 on DVD for me, so I would put the DVD in and fall asleep to it (somehow, it made it feel less like I was the only person awake in the world). ;)  Every couple of hours, I'd wake up to feed my daughter and watch whatever part was playing.  This continued for around 2 weeks.  So let's just say I'm VERY familiar with this version! ;)

7.  Top Three Jane Austen characters that "take delight in vexing" you?

1. Mrs. Bennett:  If that woman was my mother, I'd put myself up for adoption!!  I know that wasn't really an option back then, but man!  What a frustrating person! 

 2. Lucy Steele:  Such a conniving, backstabbing, vicious girl!  I don't know how Elinor kept her cool!

 3. Mr. Collins:  A pompous, odious fool who thinks he's God's gift to women because of his connection, his "noble patroness, the Lady Catherine de Bourgh!" ;)

8.  Jane Austen Sequels... Do you like them or not?
     I haven't really read any...I'm always reluctant to try sequels that aren't written by the same author, especially since, in Jane Austen's case,  so many of them tend to have a very sensual focus.  I'm not too keen on books that mess with the originals either, such as "Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters".  Really?

9.  Do you have a favorite spot to keep all your Jane Austen "stuff"?

     Not really.  Most of my Jane Austen items are books, so I just keep them on my bookshelf.  I do like to put all of my favorite books together, though, so my Jane Austens go next to my Narnia and Lord of the Rings books. :)

10.  Which Jane Austen character do you think you're most like?

     I'm a combination of Emma Woodhouse and Catherine Morland.  Catherine is the most like my young, high school-aged self.  Like Catherine, I was very naive and very trusting of others.  Thankfully, I didn't end up befriending an Isabella to lead me astray (although I had a friend with a similar personality in elementary school).
     Although I was a fairly quiet, shy girl when I was younger, I had my Emma moments, too.  There was a girl in high school who was every bit as frustrating to be around as Miss Bates.  It was so hard to be polite to her.  Honestly, I should have made a better effort to be friendly to her and not just tolerant of her.  The picnic scene in Emma was always a good reminder to me of why I should hold my tongue.  And my own Mr. Knightley (my hubby...but at that time my boyfriend) always made it very clear that he did not approve of gossip or belittling others.
     Now, as I've mentioned before, I find myself behaving very "Emma-ish" at times.  Not so much with the matchmaking, but I definitely tend to have the attitude issues and go on rants when things bother me.  And soon I find "Mr. Knightley" encouraging me to think through my actions and words, always very gently, of course.  Sometimes it's infuriating to be married to someone who's so even-keeled.  He spoils all of my best rants! ;)           

11.  What was your introduction to Jane Austen?

     I ended up mentioning this in an earlier question, but my first introduction to Jane Austen was the 1995 version of Sense and Sensibility.  It came out when I was a freshman in high school, and I went to see it in the theaters with my mom.  There may have been a group of us that went, but I can't remember.  I fell in love with the story, the costumes, the hairstyles, and the time period in general! 
     I think the first Jane Austen book I read was Pride and Prejudice.  I checked it out from our school library when I was in 11th grade.  Since then, I've read all of her major works (Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Mansfield Park, Persuasion, and Northanger Abbey) and I've seen numerous movie adaptations.  I will always be thankful for that first movie that got me started all of those years ago. :)


Miss Elizabeth Bennet said...

" I know that many people don't care for Catherine because she is so easily swayed by those around her. But I appreciate her innocence and sincerity. When she does make a mistake, she tries her best to make it right. I also appreciate her genuine, unselfish affection for those around her. Like Emma, she also grows and changes for the better through her experiences. She goes from a girl with an uncontrollable imagination to a more careful, thoughtful young woman by the end of the book."
Could I quote this for the conclusion of Jane Austen Week?

Where you said about David Morrissey's 80's hair in the 2008 Sense and Sensibility, I remember that the scene where he was running to find Marianne after she took a walk in the rain how the music sounded like it came out of an 80's action movie. But I know what you mean about the costumes in that one. Some of them seemed like they were from an earlier period.

Bama said...

Oh my goodness! I enjoyed reading your answers immensely! I agree with you on most of them, but my favorites would be in a different order. :o)

Not about Jane Austen, but did you happen to watch Downton Abbey when it was on? I loved it, and can hardly wait for the second season to air in January.

beast'sbelle said...

Thanks for the comments, gals! :)

Miss Elizabeth, I'd be honored if you quoted my scribblings for your conclusion. :) Lol, I remember that 80s music. I remember watching it and thinking, "Okaay, where did that come from?" ;)

Bama, I'm glad you enjoyed my answers. I know you're quite the Austen fan yourself! :)

I didn't get a chance to see Downton Abbey until it was released to instant play on Netflix. While I didn't appreciate some of the content, I did enjoy many of the characters and couldn't believe the way it ended! I'm so glad they're doing a second season so I can find out what happens next! :)

beast'sbelle said...

Just another note to my younger readers: I cannot in good conscience recommend Downton Abby, even though many parts of it are excellent. It has some sensual situations and some scenes and situations with a homosexual character that made me very uncomfortable.

Elliebob said...

I have the 1995 s and s, 1995 p and p, and other movies at home. I watch them all the time! I really love them on rainy days. :) Thanks for letting me know about the one movie though. :)

Bama said...

I agree about some of the content of Downton Abbey! I would never be comfortable with children watching it.

I was caught up in the marvelous costuming and period details. And some of the characters were wonderful! The ending was such a shocker, or cliffhanger as they call it. I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of it.

Alexis said...

I sent you an email saying my mailing adress, but nobody responded. What should I do?

beast'sbelle said...

Hi Alexis, I'm sorry no one got back to you. I went on a short out of town trip overnight and didn't get back until now. I got your info and you'll be getting your prize soon. :)

Thanks for the comment, Elliebob. Glad you're another Austen fan. :)

Bama, I also enjoyed the costumes and the unique look at life in the different classes of that time period. I just wish they didn't feel they had to add the other stuff. :( I am really curious to see what happens next, though! :D

Elliebob said...

Thanks for commenting on my bday post! I always love a happy birthday comment! It really made me feel good. :) Can't wait until yours!

Alexis said...

Tell Tess and Maggie thanks for responding my email!

Emmie Johonna said...

Wow, I was an avid reader of this one! Like you, I got into Jane Austen through a movie :} The funny thing is, I haven't been into it for that long!(I saw the '08 movie;) It actually got me back into A.G.'s! I loved your answers and they much compare to my answers!(I should say, what my answers WILL BE ;)
Rachel Noel

beast'sbelle said...

Thanks for the comments, girls. :)

Elliebob, you're welcome! :) Hope you had a wonderful birthday.

Alexis, I'll be sure to pass the message along to Tess and Maggie. ;)

Hi Rachel Noel! Glad you enjoyed the post. I'm looking forward to reading your answers, too! :)

Anonymous said...

Could you give me a list of BBC Productions and Jane Austen, or any old fashion movies you recommend? I just started the world of Jane Austen. :}

beastsbelle said...

Hi Anonymous! I'll list a few of my favorites off the top of my head. :) Some of these will be a bit redundant, as they're the ones I mentioned in this post. :)

-1995 A&E "Pride and Prejudice" (starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle)

-1996 Miramax "Emma" (starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam)

-2009 BBC "Emma" (starring Romola Garai and Johnny Lee Miller)

-2008 "Northanger Abbey"...minus a few sensual parts :{ (starring Felicity Jones and JJ Feild)

-1995 Columbia Pictures "Sense and Sensibility" (starring Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet)

-2008 "Sense and Sensibility"...minus one sensual part to fast-forward at the very beginning (starring Hattie Morahan and Charity Wakefield)

-1995 "Persuasion" (starring Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds)...I like this version a little bit better than the newer version, especially at the end. :)

If you must do "Mansfield Park", I would recommend the 2007 version (starring Billie Piper) over the one from the 90s, which had some serious content. The newer one is still not the best adaptation, though. They take out a bunch and change Fanny's character to some extent.

And of course, while the movies are a great way to introduce yourself to the wonderful world of Jane Austen, I would highly recommend that you read the books, too! :)

Other non-Jane Austen period films I enjoy:

-1982 "The Scarlet Pimpernel" starring Anthony Andrews and Jane Seymore (a few content issues in this one, but overall a great story!)

-2008 "The Young Victoria" starring Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend

-2005 "North and South" starring Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-ashe

Depending on your age, I also enjoyed the "Cranford" series and the Masterpiece Theater adaptations of "Little Dorrit" (2009 starring Claire Foy and Matthew Macfadyen) and "Bleak House" (2005 starring Gillian Anderson) by Charles Dickens. The reason I mention your age is that the Dickens ones can be a bit dark and intense, and the Cranford ones have a few very serious injuries treated with pretty intense methods. Honestly, I'm cringing now just thinking about it! :}

I know there are more, but that's all I can think of for now. Hopefully that gives you a good starting point! :) If you have Netflix, I know that several of these are available on Instant Play. :)